Being Together: The Best Vacation!

Despite hard work earlier,  tthe distillery wasn't finished. The promised winter vacation cancelled. But Mary and the boys flew to join Gary at Highland Flats. The work was completed even before the deadline and a great winter vacation happened as well!

Despite hard work earlier, the distillery wasn’t finished, so the vacation was cancelled. But Mary and the boys flew to join Gary at Highland Flats. The work was completed even before the deadline, and a great winter vacation happened as well!

We had planned a two-week vacation because I had been gone for five weeks traveling in Sri Lanka, India, Dubai, Kenya, and Somalia. So I told the boys, “If I go for five weeks, we’ll take two weeks at Christmastime and go to Whistler in British Columbia to ski; or we’ll go someplace where there’s nobody around and it will just be us for two weeks just to ski and play and have fun.”

Well, when I realized it wasn’t going to happen, it was really hard to pick up the phone the day before Christmas and tell Mary, “Honey, if I don’t stay here and build this distillery, it’s not going to happen. I don’t know how to tell the boys, because I made them a promise.”

She said, “That’s okay, Honey; we’ll come and help you.”

So they flew up and worked side by side with me every single day, right through Christmas, hanging sheet rock, taping, texturing, painting, welding, whatever it was; and Mary was cleaning. She’s the cleaning person and cleans up behind everybody, and then when the construction crews came back after Christmas, she was cleaning up behind them.

So I’d get up in the morning at 4 o’clock and go over and work in the distillery; then the boys would get up about 9. I’d go over and make breakfast, and we had breakfast together. Then we’d all go to the distillery and work until 3 o’clock. And I’d say, “Okay, boys, let’s go.” And we’d load up and drive up to the ski hill and ski until 9 o’clock. Then we’d come back and go to bed. Day after day we did the same thing, but they got to ski and they got to be with me; and I got to be with them.

Building the Highland Flats Distillery

Young Living Members and crew enjoy lunch in the warming shack at Winter Harvest.

Young Living Members and crew enjoy lunch in the warming shack at Winter Harvest.

Of course for 16 years, we chipped and trucked the chips all the way to St. Maries, 125 miles in the cold of winter on icy roads. Some days I could make it in 3½ hours if I only had to chain up once, but many times I was chaining up three to seven times between Highland and St. Maries. The longest time it took me to make a trip was seven hours. Part of that was because of an accident. But that particular trip I had to put chains on seven times and take them off seven times before getting to the distillery. So it was a very tough job. Harvesting the trees is best to do it when it’s cold because they manufacture more oil. I love the harvest. It’s one of my favorite times.

This was our first warming shack on the Highland Flats Farm. This is where we would eat lunch, and it sometimes felt warmer outside than in the shack.

Because he has no Plan B, Gary managed to get his Highland Flats distillery built in time for distilling on January 6, 2014. Impossible is not in Gary’s vocabulary!

Because he has no Plan B, Gary managed to get his Highland Flats distillery built in time for distilling on January 6, 2014. Impossible is not in Gary’s vocabulary!

These are the trucks I drove back and forth from Highland to St. Maries. I decided we needed to change that; we needed to build a distillery right on location. So last winter when I came back from Somalia, I went to Highland and we built the distillery. I had my goal: we are going to distill on January 6.

The previous manager and other workers said many times that the distillery would never be built on time. They were absolutely certain that it wasn’t going to happen. We’d have to go back to St. Maries and distill there again this year, and then we would spend the rest of the winter building the distillery.

I came home from Somalia and said, “There is no plan B.” This is my philosophy and how I operate: I don’t have a plan B when I do things. When you have a plan B, 90 percent of the time you fall back to plan B and you don’t reach your goal. You have plan A and you dream plan A and you live plan A, and I don’t care if you have to work 26 hours a day and 8 days a week to fulfill your dream. If you’re committed and you’re driven and you believe in your dream, that’s what you’ll do.

The Beginning of the Highland Flats Farm

How many have been to the Highland Flats Tree Farm? Oh, yes. Well, this is a wonderful story that unfolded over a number of years. On weekends when we were harvesting the lavender, Mary and I would take off and drive looking for wild tansy. This is what we were doing the day we found the tree farm; we were looking for wild tansy.

A guy was on a D6 bulldozer and was piling and burning old, overgrown Christmas trees. I just thought, oh my goodness, he’s burning those beautiful trees. I jumped out of the car, ran over, and talked to him. He was hired by the owner, so he gave me the phone; and I called the owner in California and asked him what he was doing. And he said, “Well, I can’t sell the trees; there’s no money in it, so I’m taking them out so that I can put another crop in.”

And I said, “Can I have the trees?”

And he said, “Well, what do you want the trees for?”

And I said, “I don’t know, but I’ll clear your land in exchange for the trees.”

And he said, “Wow, that’d be fabulous, it’s costing me $600 an acre for clearing the trees and burning them.”

Well, I was excited; he was excited. The contractor, who lost his job, wasn’t too excited. But that’s where it began.

When I got back to the car I told Mary that I had just made a deal for all of the trees. She looked at me, as she does some of the times, you know, and her eyes are kind of wide, and I can see the wheels turning in the background: I really did marry a crazy guy. He’s been up too late at night, he gets up too early in the morning, he’s lost it. Now he wants all of these—what in the world is he going to do with these trees?

How many of you like balsam fir oil? Cedar oil? Pine oil? Blue spruce oil? Yes. And the farm is growing and growing and growing in Highland.

Partner Distilleries Around the World

Gary goes on site to be sure of quality and exactness in distillation.

Gary goes on site to be sure of quality and exactness in distillation.

This is one of our partner distilleries in Kenya, Nairobi, for the distillation of Frankincense.

Another partner distillery is in Japan, where our Yuzu oil is produced. How many of you like Yuzu? Isn’t that beautiful? Absolutely.

We have three distillers in Taiwan, and Dr. Lee and his son run the operation there, which is producing wonderful oils for us. How many like Hinoki oil? Oh my goodness, isn’t that wonderful? Yes. And Dr. Lee is here with us again this year.

Young Living Diamonds tour the distillery in Kona, Hawaii, where the sustainably grown sandalwood is distilled.

Young Living Diamonds tour the distillery in Kona, Hawaii, where the sustainably grown sandalwood is distilled.

This is a recent adventure, the sandalwood farm in Hawaii. So there have been a lot of wonderful things going. There’s the distillery in Hawaii.

I’m just going to tell you another part of my dream. I went to Hawaii a year or so ago to look at this project, and it came together. Then I laid down for a few minutes and went to sleep and started to dream. When I started to dream, I started to get excited. When I get excited, I wake up and start writing. When I start writing, I start thinking about more things that make the dream bigger. So when you’re dreaming, make sure you have a notepad and pen beside your bed or close by, so you can get up and write. Sometimes you’ll dream about so much that you’ll get up in the morning and forget what you dreamed about. So write down your dreams.

I had a dream: Let’s build something greater in Hawaii that all of our members could absolutely get excited about. Stay tuned for more details to come.

Young Living Global Partnerships

This is the first blue cypress to be sustainably produced in Australia. The essential oil is known for its ultra-high frequency.

This is the first blue cypress to be sustainably produced in Australia. The essential oil is known for its ultra-high frequency.

The first photo is in northern Australia with blue cypress. We do not just cut down trees and leave. We insist they must be sustainably grown.

I went to Madagascar to help these people and to teach them about distillation and planting of vetiver. They were distilling it the wrong way, and I had to take the lid off.

After averting a dangerous accident, Gary instructed these vetiver distillers in Madagascar on proper prepping of vetiver before distillation.

After averting a dangerous accident, Gary instructed these vetiver distillers in Madagascar on proper prepping of vetiver before distillation.

It was one of those times when God really orchestrated proper timing. They had closed the lid and were ready to fire the chamber when I arrived. The moment I saw the swan neck, I yelled and told the lady, stop, please stop, shut it down, and open the lid. She had put a valve on the swan neck and had it closed. It became a pressure vessel, and if she had charged that chamber with steam, it would have exploded and killed everybody within 10 feet of it.

So it was pretty scary, and I’m just grateful that I was there to be part of eliminating that disaster. So we unloaded it and I showed them how to prep the vetiver for distillation. I also taught them different ways of planting.